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Lithuania Says Russian Special Services Involved in Volkov Attack

Leonid Volkov.

Updated with Peskov's remarks.

Lithuania on Thursday said it suspects Russian special services were behind an attack on Russian opposition figure Leonid Volkov earlier this week and called the incident an act of "political terrorism."

Volkov, a close ally of late Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, was briefly admitted to the hospital after he was repeatedly struck with a hammer outside his home in Vilnius late Tuesday.

Lithuanian intelligence services issued a statement saying the attack was likely "organized by Russia" and now said they suspected it had been carried out by a recruited local.

"It seems to be the work of the Russian special services, apparently done through some recruited person," intelligence chief Darius Jauniskis told reporters on Thursday.

He said he could not disclose details of the ongoing investigation.

The attack came almost a month after Navalny died at an Arctic prison, which Volkov and other allies of the late activist blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin, and days before the March 15-17 presidential election.

Lithuanian police refused to comment on what security arrangements had been made for Volkov either before or after the attack.

But Jauniskis urged "more attention" be paid to protecting Russian opposition figures in Lithuania.

The head of the national crisis management center, Vilmantas Vitkauskas, said the attack on Volkov was "professional, well-planned and that whoever carried it out was either well-prepared or received very good instructions."

"This is the first time that such an incident of political aggression, of political terrorism, has happened on our soil," he told public radio.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said that Moscow's potential role should not come as a surprise.

"All of this adds up to a whole set of issues, incidents, where it is clear that such things are planned. We should not be surprised," he said.

"As for Putin, I can only say one thing: no one is afraid of you here," he added.

When asked about the attack against Volkov, the Kremlin said Thursday that it could not comment on the incident since it happened in another country.

"You shouldn't be afraid of Putin. You should respect and listen to Putin," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

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